Sunday, January 24, 2010

Remembering Uncle Bill

When I think of my great uncle, Bill Webb, who died this weekend after a lengthy illness, two images come to mind. The first is of him in a boat at Nolin Lake and the second is of him walking along the streets in Camp Taylor.

Bill loved to fish and was a great fisherman. He was one of the early adaptors of what we call “the little green worm,” which is a lethal weapon to bass to this day. He fished with my dad quite a bit. He’d also fish by himself. He had his own routines.

Once, when I was very young, Uncle Bill invited me to join him on a fishing trip. I’m sure it cramped his style a little bit to have a kid along, but you wouldn’t know it. He was very patient . . . until I started catching more fish than him, courtesy of the little green worm.

At that point, Uncle Bill decided I should take my own fish off the hook. Maybe he was trying to teach me, but I think he was trying to catch up. Either way, Bill was as proud of my fish as I was. He couldn’t wait to get home to show my dad our catch and needle him about how his boy had thrived under the tutelage of “a real fisherman.” I never caught a bigger fish to this day.

My second memory of Uncle Bill is of him walking the streets of Camp Taylor like the community’s unofficial mayor. Bill had a heart attack when he was younger and would walk the perimeter of Audubon Park Country Club for exercise, picking up wayward golf balls as he went. As best I know, Uncle Bill didn’t play golf. On his walkabout, Bill would always pass our front porch, hollering “hey, Dougo,” whenever he saw me or my dad.

I suspect once Uncle Bill is laid to rest this week Aunt Norma will find a basement full of golf balls . . . and a few packs of little green worms.